Binge Drinking May Compromise Your Immune System

First Posted: Dec 30, 2014 08:50 AM EST

While you may be drinking this New Year's, remember not to overdo it. Scientists have found that binge drinking in young, healthy adults significantly disrupts the immune system.

Bing drinking can increase the risk of falls, burns, gunshot wounds, car accidents and other traumatic injuries. Yet binge drinking can also have more subtle effects; it can impair the body's ability to recover from these injuries. In fact, previous studies have found that binge drinking delays wound healing, increases blood loss and makes patients more prone to pneumonia and infections from catheters.

That's why researchers decided to take a closer look at binge drinking. The researchers recruited participants who, depending on their weight, drank four or five shots of vodka. Twenty minutes after peak intoxication, their immune systems revved up. But when measured again at two hours and then at five hours after peak intoxication, their immune systems had become less active than when sober.

The findings reveal that binge drinking can impair a patient's immune system. This could have serious consequences for those that wind up in accidents after drinking heavily.

Currently, the researchers are planning a follow-up study of burn unit patients. They plan to compare patients who had alcohol in their system when they arrived with patients who were alcohol-free; they will measure immune system markers from each group, and compare their outcomes.

The findings are published in the journal Alcohol.

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